Can the Florida Keys be Saved from Sea Level Rise?


After a glorious week here on No Name Key in the beautiful Florida Keys, I’m heading home and wondering whether the key deer and the other inhabitants, animals and humans of Monroe County will be able to live here towards the end of my life.

Much of the Keys sit at, near or even below current sea levels and over the last 10 or so years have increasingly been subjected to extensive flooding that will soon become more and more routine. It’s been well publicized that some communities in Key Largo, for example, have suffered flooding for nearly three months straight. News that the streets and bars in Key West are flooding have become commonplace. And, sadly, the problem is only going to get worse.

As I have noted in previous blogs, scientists predict that the number of “sunny day flooding” events will increase from the current 6 times per year to an estimated 80 times per year by 2030 and to 380 times per year by 2045, thus more than once a day as high and low tides fluctuate twice per day.

“If we asked for what we actually needed, we’d be in the billions of dollars.”
Helene Wetherington, Monroe County Head of Disaster Recovery

It’s no wonder that the leaders of Monroe County have asked the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for 150 million dollars to begin to address the problem: money that would be used to start to raise all sorts of things, such as roads. And while 150 million dollars sounds like an enormous sum of money, mitigating the problem will likely cost “billions” so says Helene Wetherington the Head of Disaster Recovery for Monroe County. You can read about Monroe County’s request and their perspective on this growing problem by clicking here.

And while I am headed back to Miami to finish this semester’s exams, I can’t help but wonder why Florida’s leaders or, for that matter, America’s are not doing more to rid our society of the fossil fuels that are contributing to so much of our climate crisis. Whether it’s hundreds of millions, billions or even trillions of dollars that must be spent to try and save some semblance of our current way of life here in South Florida, it would be so much less expensive if we would just get serious about solving the core problem before it’s too late.